Weekly Export Risk Outlook


Figure of the week:


Eurozone 2012 GDP contraction

​Eurozone: Q4 2012 GDP contracted

GDP decreased by -0.6% q/q in Q4 2012, slightly more than expectations of -0.4%, confirming the expected contraction in activity over the whole year (-0.5%, in line with EH forecasts). In Q4 2012, q/q contractions were widespread, including Germany (-0.6%), France (-0.3%), Netherlands (-0.2%), Belgium (-0.1%), Austria (-0.2%), Finland (-0.5%), Italy (-0.9%), Spain (-0.7%) and Portugal (-1.8%). In full year 2013, EH forecasts GDP to contract by -0.1% (compared with a consensus -0.2%) reflecting ongoing fiscal consolidation and a weak global economy. Business surveys in January continued to point to contraction in the coming months, although stabilising. EH expects this trend to continue, but with a gradual improvement in H2. Meanwhile, in Italy legislative elections are scheduled for 24-25 February. The latest polls show that the centre-left PD Bersani was leading with around 35.2% support, followed by centre-right PdL Berlusconi (28%), 5 Star Movement Beppe Grillo (15.9%) and the centre coalition lead by Monti (14.8%). However, uncertainty regarding the election’s outcome is high given the Italian electoral system and a high number of undecided /abstentions (30% of voters).

US: Lacklustre data

The most recent four-week moving average of weekly jobless claims, at 353,000, is still not indicating a robust labour market. In addition, retail sales (ex-auto) were weak in January and over the year have grown only +1.7%, but auto sales expanded by a strong +7.6%. Industrial production slipped in January putting the y/y increase at only +2.1%. Meanwhile, automatic budget cuts of USD85 billion are due to start in 10 days, with accompanying concerns relating to the ability of the government to manage its finances. The cuts, representing less than 3% of the total budget, were delayed in August of 2011 until January 2013, and were then delayed again until 1 March.

Germany: Record foreign trade levels in 2012

Despite challenging global economic conditions and a marked contraction in economic activity in Q4 2012, the external sector performed strongly last year. First (and provisional) official statistics show that merchandise exports were valued at a record EUR1,097 billion in full year 2012, representing an increase of +3.4% compared 2011, which had also been a record. Imports of goods increased moderately in 2012, by +0.7%, and also reached a new high, of EUR909 billion. The trade balance in 2012 registered a surplus of EUR188 billion, which was the second largest annual surplus since the introduction of foreign trade statistics in 1958. In 2012, exports of goods to the rest of the Eurozone declined by -2.1% but shipments to other EU countries increased by +3.3% and exports to countries outside the EU increased by +8.8%.

North Africa: Transition update

Until recently, it was perceived that the transition in Tunisia had been relatively smooth compared with neighbouring Libya and with Egypt. Recent events, specifically the street response following the assassination of a leading political opposition figure, have brought that assessment into question. Tunisia’s PM—head of a tri-partite coalition of Islamist and secular parties— resigned this week after failing to forge a new government of technocrats, largely because his al-Nahda party did not support this move. The president will now seek a new premier and a new government but the political environment has deteriorated, reflecting tensions within and between formal parties and social and religious groups. A regional theme is how to establish a new political environment, with stability and security, while a deteriorating economy fails to meet popular expectations of jobs and improved living standards. Expect the transitions to remain fragile across the region and to require international support.



  • Mediterranean, Africa & Middle East – South Africa: Politics/li>
  • Americas – Ecuador: Presidential elections
  • Asia-Pacific – Thailand: Post-flood recovery
  • Europe – Central Europe: Weak 2012 GDP